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The Shingle Is Up, Now What?

I have been asked many times, ‘What was it like starting your own business?’ and after I say, ‘terrifying,’ I add that it was the best move I ever made, not only for me but also for my family. This leads to a request for advice. Since I hear this a lot, I thought it was a good topic for our blog, so here it goes.

Develop Your Story
No matter what your business, you have to put your story into perspective for others. This outlines the details of your business, so eliminate the industry lingo and get to the point. If you confuse potential customers by showing how smart you are – using jargon or being too technical – you run the risk of losing opportunities. That is why We Tell Stories has been so effective for Atlas.  It is simple and to the point.

Your response should elicit questions from the person you are speaking with. This allows you to tell your story succinctly while opening opportunities for more conversation. The idea is to tell your story in a way that moves the conversation along and builds a relationship. Most important: practice!  Talk to the dog, record yourself, pitch it to your wife/husband, but keep refining it.

Sell, Baby, Sell
No matter the industry, you have to get out and mingle.

I know this is the toughest aspect of business growth.  Admittedly, I have not always followed this advice. My concern early on was that the work must come first and clients needed my undivided attention. They do, and the work is always completed, but you still need to ‘keep the pipeline flowing.’  This brings up the talent question, but that is for another post.

If you want to grow your business – and who doesn’t? – step away from the computer and tell your story. Besides, you’ve been practicing and you’ve developed a great story. Who are you going to tell it to?

Fulfill the Promise
I receive a variety of responses to this point. The easy part is getting the work.  The hard part is keeping it.

My father would always tell me, each year once the basketball season began, ‘This is where the hard work begins!’  Man, was he right.  Fulfilling the promise is more of a mantra than advice.  Here are a few points:

  • Back up what you say – Never let a client feel that you are not trustworthy. That is a relationship ender and a lost opportunity.
  • Do the right thing – If you make or find a mistake, don’t hesitate to tell your client what happened and what you are doing to solve the issue.
  • Think as a client – You don’t want to think for your clients but as one. Thinking as a client puts you in their shoes without losing your perspective.
  • Run a mirror check – Can you sleep at night knowing that your client received the best advice/direction? Is your work following the strategy? Are objectives being met? If you answer positively to these questions and rest easy at night, then you’re doing your job.

My hope is that you find this advice useful.  If you need any additional advice, email or call me.  I would love to talk with you.